Guest Post by Laura Krauss Melmed
I wrote my latest picture book, Before We Met, while channeling the remembered wonder and anticipation of awaiting the birth of a child. In the book, an expectant mother imagines the baby’s smile, the feeling of its skin, the sound of its cry.
In Before We Met, sumptuously illustrated by Jing Jing Song, an expectant mother tells of her hopes and dreams while waiting for her child to be born.
Just as adult life often entails waiting, children too must wait for all kinds of exciting events, such as a birthday party, a vacation trip, the first day of school, that first loose tooth, or getting a pet. Using Before We Met as a prompt, children can learn that writing about an anticipated event and its imagined outcome can be a fun way to deal with having to wait.
Here’s the set-up: Your students are enrolled in the Intergalactic Home Visit Program. In one month, a Star Visitor from a distant planet will be coming to spend a week with them at home. Because of Intergalactic security rules, your students won’t know any details about the Star Visitors or their home planets until right before they arrive.
Ask students to draw a picture of their imagined visitor and the visitor’s home planet. Then ask students to write answers to these questions.
How are you feeling while waiting for your Star Visitor to arrive?
How will you and your Star Visitor greet each other?
Where will your Star Visitor sleep?
How will you make your Star Visitor feel at home?
How will your pets react to the Star Visitor?
What does your Star Visitor like to eat? What Earth foods would you like to introduce them to?
What games might your Star Visitor teach you? What games will you teach them?
What special powers might your Star Visitor have?
What parts of your neighborhood will you take them to, and how might other Earthlings react to meeting them?
What will it be like when your class brings their Star Visitors to school?
What gift will your Star Visitor give you when they leave?
What will you give your Star Visitor to take back home?
A follow-up exercise could be for students to write about what the visit was “really” like compared to their expectations, and how they felt after their Star Visitor left.
May the Force be with your student writers as they aim their imaginations toward the stars!
Laura Krauss Melmed is the author of twenty fiction and nonfiction picture books for children, including the New York Times bestsellers, The Rainbabies and I Love You as Much. Her books have garnered many awards, including the ALA Notable Award, National Jewish Book Award, Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, Parent's Choice Award, Oppenheim Gold Award, Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Master List, and the American Bookseller Pick of the Lists. She holds an M.Ed. in early childhood education and has been a kindergarten teacher. Laura loves connecting with students and teachers face-to-face through school visits and writing workshops. She tutors in the DC Schools with Reading Partners, a national organization committed to helping children find the magic key to literacy. Visit Laura online at www.laurakraussmelmed.com